Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

Home · Articles · News · Art · Char Brickel
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Char Brickel

Al Parker - May 23rd, 2011
It’s easy to see that artist Char Bickel is serious when it comes to joy and fun.
“It’s good to keep in touch with that childhood joy,” advises the smiling Northport resident who creates evocative, handsome shadow boxes of painted silk and cotton fabric that is painstakingly cut and glued. “I loved making art as a kid and I still do.”  
Paying homage to collage, Bickel’s works draw their inspiration from the nature that surrounds her in Leelanau County and most of her works include images of animals – rabbits, fish, birds, and most noticeably, bears. In fact, her haunting image of a Juggling Bear has become synonymous with her work, appearing in a variety of her shadow boxes.
“There’s something about the shape of bears,” she says. “I’ve been doing the Juggling Bear since 1992. It’s sort of a logo for me now. To me, it reflects that you should handle parts of life in balance and joyfully.” 
Bickel’s shadow boxes begin simply with white silk that is screen printed with splashes of color. Then she cuts and glues the silk into images as simple and subtle as bears flying kites or ponies romping on a beach. The scenes may seem other-worldly, yet are rooted in the familiar. Take a closer look and you’ll see sturdy stitching linking a stone to the beach or fixing the moon in the sky.
“I like adding detail,” she says. “I like to start with a strong image first, then see something else and something else, adding details.”

Bickel grew up near the shores of Lake Michigan in Muskegon and realized early on that art would play a major role in her life. After graduating from the University of Michigan with a fine arts degree in painting, she earned her MFA in fibers from the Cranbrook Academy of Art.
Before Bickel and her husband Steve Wetherbee moved to Northport in 1991, she taught art classes at Lansing Community College, The Center for Creative Studies, and Wayne State University. A year later, she opened Zoon Gallery (later Char Bickel Gallery) which highlighted her works in Northport for a decade before closing in 2002.
With an interest in young artists, Bickel has also taught in both Northport and Suttons Bay public schools.
She creates her shadow boxes in a studio at her circa-1890 white farmhouse atop a hill. It’s filled with all varieties of her creativity, plus the works of many of her friends and contemporary artists. On display are pieces by Angela Saxon, Sue Brightheart, Steve Toornman, Meredith Krell, Charla Khanna, Chris Roberts-Antieau, Doug Racich, Melanie Steffes and others.
Over the years, Bickel’s pieces have been displayed in dozens of galleries nationwide and the focus of several solo exhibitions, including at the Slusser Gallery at the U-M and the Ann Arbor Art Association. Many private and corporate collections include her creative works. Locally, she’s been featured at Kejara’s Bridge in Lake Leelanau and Parallel Arts in Northport.
On June 24, she’ll be the featured artist for the annual Suttons Bay Artwalk. 

Fans of Bickel’s work will want to be aware of her new series of 10x10-inch shadow boxes that she’ll be displaying this summer. Each will focus on a single nature image – usually a fish, bird, rabbit, frog, horse, bear or other creature. 
She’s also been busy collecting sand samples from a variety of northern Michigan beaches and plans to include tiny bottles of different sands in upcoming works.
“Art is food for the soul,” explains Bickel. “When you contemplate art, you mirror the artist’s experience; you are in touch with the universal creative imagination that breathed life into the picture. The animals and mysterious ladies who visit my pictures have also visited my dreams. They are wise, shy presences whom I try to depict in a respectful, poetic way, using a satisfying yin/yang combination of collage and painting.”
That poetic chord resonates with Sue Ann Round, owner of the Michigan Artists Gallery where 40 to 50 of Bickel’s works are always on display. 
“I would definitely say she’s a poet,” offers Round. “It’s very common for her to write a little something on the back of a piece that often brings someone to tears.”
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